👋 Good morning! Welcome to Wednesday, the fourth-best day of the week (or third-worst depending how you want to look at it).
My official ranking: Saturday, Friday, Sunday, Thursday, Wednesday, Monday, Tuesday
⚾️ Ohtani update: Shohei Ohtani had successful elbow surgery on Tuesday. His doctor expects him to be ready to hit on Opening Day 2024 but he likely won't pitch again until 2025.
📺 Sports on Max: Max is adding a live sports package next month with MLB, NBA, NHL and more. It will be free until February, then $10/month.
🏈 Merger talks: The XFL and USFL are in advanced talks to merge into one spring football league, as first reported by Axios.
See what else is trending on Yahoo Sports.
PROMOTION AND RELEGATION IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL?
What if the Pac-12 and Mountain West changed the way college conferences operate by borrowing an idea from European soccer?
What we're hearing: The "Pac-2" (Oregon State and Washington State) and Mountain West have explored creating their own promotion and relegation model for football (and potentially other sports), Yahoo Sports' Ross Dellenger reports.
The goal is to create high-stakes matchups, scheduling alliances and a points system to fuel interest and excitement in college football’s lower tier.
"We have to think differently," said one Mountain West athletic director. "We're always trying to fit things in a box and we are always late to the party."
The divisions: The idea starts with the Pac-12 and Mountain West each having at least eight members for a total of 16 teams. Think of it as a Pac-12 division and a Mountain West division under one umbrella.
As it stands, the two leagues combine for 14 football-playing members. Two obvious expansion targets: North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
Each year or two, two teams are promoted from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 and two teams are relegated from the Pac-12 to the Mountain West.
The schedule: The entire season builds up to a crescendo of a final week featuring three games:
A Relegation Game between the sixth- and seventh-placed teams in the Pac-12. The loser is relegated to the Mountain West along with the eighth-place finisher in the regular season.
A Promotion Game between the second- and third-placed teams in the Mountain West. The winner is promoted to the Pac-12 along with the regular-season champion.
The Pac-12 championship game, where the winner has a significant chance to advance to the newly expanded College Football Playoff.
One tricky part: How are schools divided in Year 1 of this concept?
It would make sense for Oregon State and Washington State to begin in the Pac-12, and for the two expansion teams to begin in the Mountain West. But where do the 12 other schools start?
Is it by conference standings over the past decade or two? Overall revenue figures? Is it a made-for-TV, NBA-style lottery drawing? However it's done, things could get messy politically.
Will this actually happen? "Everything is on the table," said one high-placed source with knowledge of the discussions. "We're looking at a lot of options. This one included."
Coming up: Oregon State and Washington State, currently fighting the Pac-12 in court, meet Saturday in a battle of ranked teams.
OH SO CLOSE! AGAIN!
The Padres nearly pitched a combined no-hitter on Tuesday against the Rockies, losing it on a single with no outs in the ninth before winning on a Xander Bogaerts walk-off homer, Jeff writes.
Déjà vu: This is the fourth time in the past 10 days (!!!) that a team has lost a no-hit bid in the ninth inning or later.
Sep. 10: Three Brewers combined for 10 no-hit innings against the Yankees before losing the bid in the 11th — and ultimately losing, 4-3, in the 13th.
Sep. 13: Four Astros combined for eight no-hit innings against the A's before losing the bid with one out in the ninth in a 6-2 win.
Sep. 15: Three Rockies combined for eight no-hit innings against the Giants before losing the bid with no outs in the ninth in a 3-2 win.
Sep. 19: Two Padres combined for eight no-hit innings against the Rockies before losing the bid with no outs in the ninth in a 2-0 win.
A mini-drought: In 2021, there were a record nine no-hitters. Over the past two seasons, there have been a combined eight.
TRAGEDY AT GILLETTE
Massachusetts police are investigating the death of a Patriots fan at Gillette Stadium during Sunday's game against the Dolphins.
Details: Witnesses say Dale Mooney, 53, was involved in an altercation before being rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"[Mooney] went over to Section 311 and he basically engaged in mutual combat with another fan," one witness told the Boston Globe.
"It looked like somebody was in the middle of them, and then a man in a Dolphins jersey … connected with two punches to the victim's head."
"It wasn't something crazy or out of the ordinary until, 30 seconds later, the guy wasn't getting up."
So incredibly sad: "I just feel numb," said Lisa Mooney, who noted her husband had been a season ticket holder for 30 years. "I just can't even believe this is for real."
FUN TIMES: CITIES DOING BOTH
When it comes to local sports, there are few better combinations in mid-September than a contending baseball team and an unbeaten football team.
Sports radio is buzzing.
The excitement is palpable.
Both teams are inspiring one another and cheering each other on.
Where it stands: Seven of the nine* undefeated NFL teams have an MLB team in their city/metro area that has either clinched a playoff spot or still has a chance to do so.
Philadelphia: After two runner-up finishes last year, the Eagles and Phillies (first in wild card) seek revenge.
Baltimore: "I love the way the Orioles play," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. "I see a lot of us in them and them in us. They're gritty."
San Francisco: The Niners are title co-favorites; the Giants are three games back of the third wild card spot.
Atlanta: The Falcons are 2-0 for the first time since 2017; the Braves are playoff-bound for the sixth straight year.
Miami: The Dolphins are the class of the AFC East and have the new MVP favorite; the Marlins are 0.5 games out of the third wild card spot.
Dallas/Arlington: The Cowboys have dominated the first two weeks; the Rangers are tied with the Mariners for the third wild card spot.
Tampa Bay: The Bucs are the surprise team of the NFL; the Rays have already secured a playoff spot.
*The only unbeaten NFL teams without an MLB contender in their backyard are the Saints (no MLB team) and Commanders (Nationals are in last place).
NFL POWER RANKINGS
The 49ers and Eagles remain atop our NFL power rankings, compiled each week by Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab, Jeff writes.
Where it stands: The 2-0 Saints jumped four spots into the top 10, and the 0-2 Bengals dropped six spots out of the top 10. The Buccaneers (up seven) were this week’s biggest riser, while the Chargers (down seven) were the biggest faller.
49ers: 2-0 (–)
Eagles: 2-0 (–)
Cowboys: 2-0 (up 1)
Chiefs: 1-1 (down 1)
Bills: 1-1 (–)
Dolphins: 2-0 (up 2)
Ravens: 2-0 (up 3)
Lions: 1-1 (down 1)
Saints: 2-0 (up 4)
Browns: 1-1 (down 1)
Jaguars: 1-1 (–)
Bengals: 0-2 (down 6)
Seahawks: 1-1 (up 3)
Packers: 1-1 (down 2)
Steelers: 1-1 (up 2)
Falcons: 2-0 (up 3)
Commanders: 2-0 (up 4)
Buccaneers: 2-0 (up 7)
Titans: 1-1 (up 3)
Patriots: 0-2 (down 5)
Chargers: 0-2 (down 7)
Jets: 1-1 (down 4)
Vikings: 0-2 (down 3)
Giants: 1-1 (–)
Rams: 1-1 (up 1)
Raiders: 1-1 (down 3)
Colts: 1-1 (up 2)
Broncos: 0-2 (down 1)
Panthers: 0-2 (down 1)
Texans: 0-2 (up 1)
Cardinals: 0-2 (up 1)
Bears: 0-2 (down 2)
Pray for the Bears… Chicago is the first team in NFL history to lose 12 straight games while allowing 25+ points in each. The last time the Bears won (Week 7 last year), the 2022 MLB season was still in progress!
SEP. 20, 1913: VICTORY FOR OUIMET
110 years ago today, 20-year-old Francis Ouimet beat Britons Harry Vardon and Ted Ray at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. to become the first amateur to win the U.S. Open, Jeff writes.
From caddie to champion: Ouimet* lived across the street from The Country Club, where he grew up caddying. His win helped popularize the British-dominated sport in the U.S., with the number of American golfers tripling over the next 10 years.
⚾️ 1968: Mickey Mantle hit his 536th and final home run, ending his career trailing only Babe Ruth and Willie Mays on the all-time list. He now ranks 18th.
🎾 1973: Billie Jean King beat former world No. 1 Bobby Riggs in the famous "Battle of the Sexes" match, which drew 90 million viewers worldwide.
*The silver screen: In 2005, Shia LaBeouf starred as Ouimet in Disney's "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
WATCHLIST: GAME 3
The No. 6 Lynx host the No. 3 Sun tonight (8pm ET, ESPN) in a winner-take-all Game 3 with a spot in the WNBA semifinals on the line.
Sun*: Alyssa Thomas (20.5 pts, 5.5 reb, 8 ast, 3 stl in Games 1-2) and DeWanna Bonner (20.5 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast) lead Connecticut.
Lynx: Napheesa Collier (20 pts, 9.5 reb, 1.5 ast, 1.5 blk) and Kayla McBride (22 pts, 5.5 reb, 2.5 ast) lead Minnesota.
More to watch:
⚽️ Champions League: Eight games (12:45-3pm, Paramount+/CBSSN) … The conclusion of Matchday 1.
⚽️ MLS: 14 games (7:30-10:30pm, Apple TV) … Six are free to watch.
🏉 Rugby World Cup: Italy vs. Uruguay (11:45am, Peacock)
*Five in a row? The Sun have reached at least the semifinals in each of the past four seasons.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both absent from the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03.
Question: Messi (140 goals) and Ronaldo (129) are the top two scorers in Champions League history. Who ranks third?
Answer at the bottom.
WHICH CITY SHOULD HOST THE WORLD CUP FINAL?
The candidates to host the 2026 World Cup Final have been narrowed down to three: Dallas/Arlington, Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey.
Poll: Which candidate should host?
Click a link to vote. Your choice will be recorded and we’ll send you to the Yahoo Sports homepage. Check back tomorrow for the results!
Trivia answer: Robert Lewandowski (92 goals)